With sales figures climbing and new businesses under construction, Davis County retailers seem to be saying: "Recession? What recession?"

Gross taxable sales, services and purchases in Davis County were $1.09 billion in fiscal year 1990, an 8.4-percent increase over the previous year, according to figures released by the Utah State Tax Commission's economic and statistical unit."The retail sales picture looks healthy in Davis County," said Rick Mayfield, director of economic development. "It's tremendous, especially if you look at the fact the rest of the country is in a recession."

And the retail sales situation will likely improve, thanks to several new department stores.

Except for a few cities, every Davis County community experienced positive growth in retail sales. (Please see box.)

Such sales are important not only to business owners and their employees but to the city governments, which receive through sales tax between 0.75 and 0.98 percent of the gross sales and services.

The sales tax revenue is an important part of the city's operating budget and can keep other taxes down.

The best growth

Leading the way were Sunset, Woods Cross, Layton, Fruit Heights and Syracuse.

Sunset: With $22 million in retail sales in 1990, Sunset improved a whopping 31 percent over the previous year's total of $17 million.

Why? Simple - the new Smith's Food and Drug Center. Sunset's retail sales are expected to improve in 1991 because of the recent opening of a new motel, the Crystal Cottage Inn, said city treasurer Oda Clayton.

Woods Cross: This city increased its gross sales by 28 percent - from $83 million to $107 million - thanks in part to the Barber Bros. car dealership, said city manager Bret Wahlen. Woods Cross' sales tax base is anchored by two other car dealerships and K mart and is expected to get a boost by a new Motel 6.

Layton: The county's largest city is also the largest in terms of retail sales, mainly because of the Layton Hills Mall.

Sales in Layton in 1990 - $313 million - were up 12 percent over $280 million the year before.

Much of the improvement in Layton's retail scene can be attributed to the county's overall economy and the city's rapid growth in population and number of businesses, particularly ShopKo and the new Smith's grocery store, said city finance director Steve Ashby.

Layton's retail sales situation may improve when the new Wal-Mart store is completed this fall.

Fruit Heights: This city also improved by 12 percent but with a much smaller volume, from $3.6 million to just over $4 million. City recorder Belva Provost was not sure why the increase but speculated it might be because of the local gas station's decision to remain open 24 hours a day and an expansion at Cherry Hill Camping and Recreation Center.

Syracuse: This city improved its sales by 11 percent, "basically because of R.C. Willey," said Mayor DeLore Thurgood. The giant furniture store has been continually increasing its sales in the area, he said.

Moderate growth

Cities that experienced an average to moderate growth in gross sales were Bountiful, Centerville, Clearfield, Farmington, North Salt Lake and West Point.

Bountiful, Farmington: Bountiful will get a boost as a result of the new ShopKo that recently opened, and Farmington is the future home of a new K mart, with construction scheduled to begin later this spring.

Negative growth

Experiencing negative growth were West Bountiful, Clinton, South Weber and Kaysville.

Mayfield noted, however, that cities such as these with small retail sales bases are prone to dramatic fluctuations.

"The closure of a convenience store can do it to one of those small cities."

Kaysville: It was the closure of a full-service grocery store that contributed most significantly to a 3-percent drop in the city's gross sales, said city manager John Thacker.

West Bountiful: Mayfield and West Bountiful Mayor Carl Johnson are at a loss over what caused that city's gross sales to plummet by 10 percent, but Johnson isn't too concerned because of the new ShopKo, on the West Bountiful-Bountiful border, and an adjacent restaurant, which is under construction.

"The anticipated sales tax revenue from ShopKo and future development will have a positive impact on our budget," said Johnson. West Bountiful, in fact, will receive 65 percent of the sales tax revenue from ShopKo with 35 percent going to Bountiful.

Clinton: Also puzzling is Clinton's gross sales, which were also down 10 percent. City manager Gary Urest doesn't know why, "unless it's just the economy itself."

South Weber: It was the same story in South Weber, whose gross sales decreased inexplicably by about 9 percent, from $7.4 million to $6.7 million.

Generally, though, the county's retail sales and services industry appears to be in good shape, Mayfield said.

"I think, overall, the county will continue to grow in sales over the next four years with what's on the drawing board."


(Additional information)


Gross taxable sales in Davis County

Figures represent the gross taxable sales, services and purchases July 1, 1989-June 30, 1990

Million dollars City % growth over previous year

313 Layton 12

264 Bountiful 5

107 Woods Cross 28

75 North Salt Lake 4

74 Clearfield 4

69 Centerville 9

42 Syracuse 11

39 Farmington 4

31 Kaysville -3

22 Sunset 31

18 West Bountiful -10

6.7 South Weber -9

4 Fruit Heights 12

3.4 Clinton -10

1.7 West Point 9

Source: Utah State Tax Commission\